Through most of my career as a travel PT, I have used a couple simple ways to arrange my housing. Primarily I used Craigslist, but occasionally I would check the local paper classifieds. It seems weird in the digital age to be checking classifieds in the paper, but typically those listing are a different pool than the ones on Craigslist… definitely worth a shot.
I’ve written about using Craigslist in the past and it suddenly seems like Craigslist has become antiquated. With new technology and services, the coming-of-age of tiny homes, and people seemingly taking interest in paring-down their Earthly belongings to be able to get creative with their housing, it is time to update the way I think about temporary housing. I’ve often used Airbnb.com for weekends away. I have used it on trips between assignments. I have used it on the front-end of assignments to fill gaps while I look for longer-term housing. But I guess it’s time to start using Airbnb as a primary way to find housing on assignment.
Airbnb has changed the way we can all look for housing. People are building homes and apartments with areas specifically set aside for guests as an extra income stream. The variety in what you can find on Airbnb is endless. If you are into renting just a single room in someone’s house, they’ve got it. If you want a furnished place of your own, there are a lot of options. There are many houses and apartments on Airbnb that are set for 30 day minimum or longer which is perfect for travelers. It seems more and more travelers are depending on Airbnb as their primary go-to for lodging. With the ability to contact the owner ahead of booking, it also leaves open the option to make contact and create month-to-month arrangements – or arrange whatever works best for your travel schedule. People have also told me about their ability to negotiate down posted rates through contacting the owners – as a professional, don’t underestimate your value as a desirable tenant and your ability to drive down rent. Airbnb also has an option to search specifically for units that allow pets. FINALLY, a solid answer for all you people asking me about traveling with a dog.
Tip: Actually read the reviews. These are a huge perk to Airbnb and can save you from committing to a less-than-desirable living situation. The reviews are one feature that makes Airbnb standout from options like Craigslist and the classifieds. Like your interview for any travel assignment, the reviews are your big chance to learn everything you can about where you are headed when you are likely going to have to commit sight-unseen.
The Downside: In the most expensive areas, Airbnb seems only to exacerbate the price rather than relieve it. I recently did searches in San Francisco, Boston, Honolulu, and Nashville for 3 month private housing (no bedrooms in someone else’s home). I found very few options less than $3,000/mo. In the majority of cities, you can find very reasonable options, but just be aware that Airbnb is only one way to find housing and you may have to consider other options if you aren’t finding what you need at the price you can afford. If you are willing to share with roommates, your affordable options open up considerably.
Alternatives: HomeAway.com is very similar to Airbnb, essentially offering the same service. It’s worth a look, but there tends to be less overall selection. I had hoped in expensive markets it would offer some more affordable options, but the prices seem to be on-par with Airbnb. The one great redeemer for HomeAway is the ability to search for more specific features and location of housing. You can even specifically search for properties like houseboats, cabins, castles, etc… it’s a pretty cool feature and the places are absolutely wild to browse through, but I don’t know how practical that is in reality for traveling therapist housing. Incidentally, I did come pretty close to living in a house boat on assignment once – I’ll just say that it has to be the right season in the right location at the right budget point for a houseboat to work out. You can probably rule a houseboat out as a reasonable option, but how cool would that be?
As a quick reminder, unless you are just getting into travel and want to keep it simple, take the housing stipend and find your own housing. With a little bit of footwork, you can save a ton of money finding your own housing and typically find it in an area more suitable to your own, unique taste. Airbnb is just one more tool for you to use in immersing yourself into the next community you work in!